Imagine: it’s movie night and your family has just arrived at the theater. The kids are beyond excited to see a new flick and, let’s be honest, you’re excited to watch something other than the news. After grabbing some popcorn and a crisp Diet Coke, you round everyone up and head into the theater. The kiddos rush to claim their seats while you hand out little bags of popcorn. A moment passes, then the lights start to dim as an overture glides out from the speakers.
“Shhh,” your child whispers, “the movie’s about to start!”
Suddenly, a loud ringing erupts from the row in front of you. It catches everyone off guard, including your kiddos, and totally disrupts the film’s beginning. Brrrrring! The ringing continues as a man pulls out his phone, flooding the entire theater with its light. Rather than silence his device and enjoy the movie, the man answers. He doesn’t speak quietly or leave the theater, and the entire audience has to listen to the hot office gossip before they can get back to the film.
There are few things more frustrating than a smartphone user with poor cell phone etiquette. However, good etiquette isn’t something that new phone users know right away—it needs to be taught. And with more than half of U.S. children now having phones, cell phone etiquette is more important than ever. But what does good cell phone etiquette look like, and how can we empower children to be conscientious phone users?
Well, it’s pretty easy! Without further ado, here are ten rules of cell phone etiquette that are sure to help your kids share, chat, and connect on their phone without inconveniencing others around them.
Ten Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette
The biggest rule of cell phone etiquette is the golden rule: use your phone around others the way you would want them to use it around you. Here are some examples:
1. Don’t Phub
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who can’t stop staring at their phone? That’s called phubbing.
Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the act of ignoring someone you are with and giving attention to your mobile phone instead,” phubbing is one of the cardinal sins of cell phone etiquette. It’s annoying, impolite, and may harm your child’s relationships with friends and family. Remind your kids to wait until the conversation ends before checking their DMs or spending time on apps.
2. Turn Your Phone Off in the Theater
Remember that scenario you read a few paragraphs ago, about the guy gossiping on his phone during a movie? It sounded pretty frustrating, right?
Enjoying a movie is easy when phones are out of the picture. The same goes for other events like concerts and plays. In addition to disturbing audience members around you, the light and sound of a phone can distract live performers, resulting in a poor show. Concerts and movies can be amazing experiences for teens, so encourage them to enjoy them sans phone.
3. Leave a Group Before You Answer a Call
Nobody enjoys an interrupted conversation. When your child gets a phone call while in a group, teach them to walk away and take the call somewhere a bit more secluded. This protects their friend’s ears, ensures that your kiddo isn’t inconveniencing anyone, and helps them keep private conversations just that—private.
4. Use Speakerphone Sparingly
I swear by speakerphone: it keeps your hands totally free, making multitasking immensely easier. If your kiddo is doing chores like folding laundry or loading the dishwasher, speakerphone allows them to have a conversation without compromising their ongoing task. If they’re in a group or in public, however, speakerphone isn’t the best option.
Teach your child to use the speakerphone option only when it won’t disturb others around them. Speakerphone also picks up the words of everyone in the speaker’s vicinity so, when used in public, it makes conversations harder to understand.
5. Put the Phone Down at Dinner
The dinner table is one of the best places for family members and friends to connect. After all, a good meal invites good conversation! Dinner dialogue doesn’t always flow, however, and it may be tempting for teens to fill the empty air with a quick peek at their Instagram feed.
Spoiler alert: scrolling at the table isn’t productive. When teens fill silences with scrolling, they completely shift their focus away from the present moment, ultimately inhibiting potential discussion even more than silence.
If you’re scrambling for topics, check out Troomi’s handy list of dinnertime conversation subjects that are sure to help the dinner table stay a screen-free zone.
6. Put Your Phone on Vibrate
Have you ever been in a meeting or at the grocery store and heard someone’s phone beep every time they got a text? It’s pretty annoying, right? This is where the vibrate setting comes in. Turning your child’s phone to vibrate ensures that they receive notifications and calls without their phone blaring out a loud, obnoxious ringtone.
7. Check the Time Before You Chime
Bedtime is my favorite time. There are few things more refreshing than a good night’s sleep—and few things worse than waking up to a late night phone call. Remind your kiddo to check the clock before they send a text or hit up a friend on Facetime. If the matter isn’t extremely urgent, it can wait until morning.
Sleep is especially important for growing kids, and texting friends before bed can actually hamper high-quality sleep. That’s why Troomi phones give parents the ability to set a schedule for their child’s phone, ensuring that they aren’t tempted to text through the night. Click here to learn a bit more!
8. Use Your Inside Voice on the Phone
You wouldn’t yell in someone’s ear, right? So don’t yell into the phone!
Encourage your kids to use their inside voice when speaking on the phone. Most smartphone speakers are pretty high-quality, and they capture sound more effectively than you might think. Speaking at a normal volume protects the listener’s ears, your child’s vocal cords, and the hearing of everyone around them.
9. Never Text and Drive
This tip is more than just good etiquette—it’s common sense. Using your phone while driving is one of the quickest ways to endanger yourself, your passengers, and other drivers around you. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed over 3,000 lives in 2020—lives that could have been saved by simply putting the phone away.
10. Spend Some Time Sans Screen
Practicing good etiquette is about more than respecting others—it’s also about respecting ourselves.
Phones demand a lot of our time and attention. When kids and teens spend too much time in the digital world, they may forget to slow down and experience life in the real world. Remind your kiddo to treat themself with respect and take some time away from the phone. Take them on a hike, help them paint a picture, or play with them on the playground!
Put Good Etiquette into Practice
Practicing good cell phone etiquette is a vital part of life in our increasingly technological world.
With these ten tips in mind, empowering your kids to be respectful phone users is a piece of cake. Just don’t be surprised when your kiddo starts reminding you about proper cell phone etiquette!